Adlof’s Research Takes Off With Help From the ASHFoundation As a complement to the back-to-school focus in this issue of the Leader, meet ASHFoundation grant recipient Suzanne Adlof, whose work demonstrates how research translates into practice for school-based clinicians. Suzanne Adlof, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders at the University of South Carolina, has always been convinced that ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   August 01, 2018
Adlof’s Research Takes Off With Help From the ASHFoundation
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ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   August 01, 2018
Adlof’s Research Takes Off With Help From the ASHFoundation
The ASHA Leader, August 2018, Vol. 23, 67. doi:10.1044/leader.AN8.23082018.67
The ASHA Leader, August 2018, Vol. 23, 67. doi:10.1044/leader.AN8.23082018.67
As a complement to the back-to-school focus in this issue of the Leader, meet ASHFoundation grant recipient Suzanne Adlof, whose work demonstrates how research translates into practice for school-based clinicians.
Suzanne Adlof, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders at the University of South Carolina, has always been convinced that reading is fundamental to virtually everything we do.
“So much of our learning occurs through reading,” Adlof says. “Because early oral language and reading skills set the stage for future academic progress, it’s extremely important to support their development.” Her research seeks to understand the characteristics of language and reading impairments to develop targeted early interventions.
Adlof first received a 2017 ASHFoundation New Century Doctoral Scholarship, which supported her study to identify children who decipher text accurately but cannot understand its meaning. These children are often misidentified exactly because of their ability to read.
“But when you look at the language profiles of these children,” Adlof explains, “they show similarities to children with specific language impairment (SLI), suggesting that SLI intervention strategies may be useful for poor comprehenders.” The challenge, however, is finding research participants. Because they are so difficult to identify, wide screening is necessary. “We screened 10 times the number of children who finally qualified,” says Adlof. “That would have been impossible without my ASHFoundation funding.”
More recently, Adlof’s research focuses on understanding what determines reading outcomes in children with SLI. These children are at high risk for various reading problems, such as difficulty decoding (similar to dyslexia) or difficulty understanding the words (similar to poor comprehenders).
Adlof’s team studied second-grade students with SLI, dyslexia, both SLI and dyslexia, or typical reading and language skills, and found differences in their word-learning abilities. Many participants were retested in third or fourth grade, and Adlof will examine whether measures of word-learning abilities help predict growth in language and reading skills.
Adlof and her team have launched three new projects. With support from a 2017 ASHFoundation Clinical Research Grant, Adlof and her colleagues are examining how knowledge of letters and spelling patterns influences phonological processing in children with SLI. Two new NIH grants with collaborators Tiffany Hogan (MGH Institute), Julie Wolter (University of Montana) and Jessie Ricketts (Royal Holloway, University of London) will follow children with SLI to determine their word-reading outcomes and reading-comprehension outcomes.
Adlof credits her ASHFoundation awards with extending the scope and impact of her work, leading to additional extramural support from NIH and the Institute of Education Sciences. “My ASHFoundation funding has been essential to my research progress,” says Adlof. “It really helped shape my career and gave me confidence to continue.”
Adlof aims to develop metrics to identify which children are at risk for which disorders. “What we need,” she says, “is a ‘decision tree’ to determine specialized treatment pathways for different disorders.” That’s Adlof’s future—and the future of the children she’ll be helping.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
August 2018
Volume 23, Issue 8